84-year-old woman has sold soup on Saigon’s pavement for 50 years
When she was young, she carried her porridge pot on the shoulders, and walked through alleys to make a living.
Now, at the age of 84, she cannot carry her pot along the street anymore, but those who love Ms. Phung Thi De’s black-bean porridge can still taste it if they visit her on the pavement of a road in District 6, HCMC.
At 4:00 am, when the street is quiet and empty, Mrs. De begins selling black bean porridge. Her “shop” is very simple, with a pot of porridge, a pot of coconut milk, some cups and plates, and a small table with a bowl of pickles and sesame salt. The “shop” does not have even a chair. However, over the past 50 years, her porridge “shop” has become a familiar address for many people.
The proof is that though she sells porridge very early, at around 7-8 o'clock every morning, her big pot of porridge is quickly empty. Those who come late have to leave in regret because they cannot buy their favorite food.
Ms. De said that her porridge pot has fed her seven children. At the age of 84, she is still selling the soup.
Mr. Hung, a long-time customer, said: “Mrs. De’s black-bean porridge is the best. I used to eat black-bean porridge at other shops but since I have tried hers, I love it the best. Now, I only eat her porridge."
Mrs. De wakes up at 2am every day. At 2:30am, she begins cooking porridge and after 2 and a half hours, she finishes the cooking. Her bean porridge is neither loose nor thick. The rice in porridge is not crushed, while the beans are intact but soft and pulpy. Cooked for a long time, the porridge still retains its own flavor of rice and black beans. To cook delicious porridge, Mrs. De said she has to buy good rice, good beans, and especially, "cook with all my heart".
Ms. Ho Hong Hoa, 52, Mrs. De's daughter, said that her mother began selling porridge when she was 34. She has been selling the dish for 50 years and has many long-time customers who have been eating her porridge for decades.
“Sometimes my mum wanted to quit this job, but many customers begged her not to stop, so she keeps selling,” Hoa said.
At the age of 84, Mrs. De does not intend to “retire” because the porridge pot has become her joy.